Russell Clarke self portrait from the posthumously released The drawings of Russell Clark.
Last Year Wellington cartoonist Brent Willis discovered a comic featured in the Nov 12, 1954 edition of the N.Z. Listener, by New Zealand Illustrator Russell Clark in the archives of the Parliament Library (featured here). While I've found no evidence of other sequential work by Clark his prolific output featured in many New Zealand publications of the early to mid twentieth century with his illustrations adorning magazines, school journals, broadsheets and many books. The illustrations featured below are from an edition of Reed's Junior Library written by John L. Ewing and published in 1938 by A. H. & A. W. Reed.
Listen to a three minute clip from 1955 of Russell Clarke talking about his education and early inspiration in art here.
Ian F. Grant has contributed immeasurably to the recording and preservation of New Zealand's cartooning history with the publication of his books The Unauthorized Version: A Cartoon History of New Zealand (1980, revised edition 1987) and Between The Lines: A Cartoon Century of New Zealand (2005) and foremostly the establishment of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive Trust initially run independently but now fully absorbed
into the Alexander Turnbull Library . The collection includes the work of
over 60 New Zealand and expatriate New Zealand cartoonists and
over 25,000 cartoons. The New Zealand Cartoon Archive is comprised of publications, clippings, original artwork and material in digital form and has also published a series of books and monographs on New Zealand cartooning which are available here.
Ian F. Grant, Chairman of the New Zealand Cartoon Archive
Trust, Mr Peter Cartwright, H.E. The Hon. Dame Silvia
Cartwright, Governor General of New Zealand, and Rachel
Macfarlane, Cartoon Archive Trust Administrator, at the
hand-over to the Alexander Turnbull Library at the National
Library and the launch of Between the Lines on 27 October
Find more information on the New Zealand Cartoon Archive here.
Below is an excerpt of a longer interview with Grant currently in preparation for the 2012 PIkitia Press Book.
Did you have an interest in cartoons prior to being commissioned to write The Unauthorized Version: A Cartoon History of New Zealand ?
in a variety of ways. I had my first practical brush with cartoonists
when I edited Victoria University of Wellington’s student newspaper, Salient, in 1960 and 1963 and the capping magazine, Cappicade in, I think 1961. I was one of the founding directors of National Business Review,
with editorial and marketing roles over 13 or so years from late 1970.
Prior to that I’d been a copywriter and creative director in Wellington
advertising agencies in the mid-1960s, tutored part-time at the School
of Design at Wellington Polytechnic and studied politics at Victoria
University. So by the time NBR started I had a reasonable background in
design and politics. I signed up Bob Brockie as NBR cartoonist in 1975
NBR’s market was senior management in the corporate sector and
government and I was aware of the famous and relevant UK example of UK
press baron Lord Beaverbrook who hired NZ cartoonist David Low, an
avowed socialist, to infuriate the readers of the Evening Standard
– and sell more newspapers. Bob was a socialist, politicised by the
Vietnam War, and his unflinching cartoons distressed our readers – and
sold more newspapers! So, one way or another, by the time I was asked to
write The Unauthorized Version I had a considerable, but very unspecialised, interest in political or editorial cartooning.
1961 Victoria University capping magazine Cappicade
What were the first cartoonists or cartoons that interested you in the medium and when was this?
I certainly wasn’t an early reader of comics; my parents did not approve of them. Instead I read magazines like Boy’s Own Paper and The Champion,
which a bit of a hybrid,but mainly text. I was interested in history
from a young age and I suppose the first cartoons I saw regularly were
in the history texts we had at secondary school – in the, as they were
then called, Form v, V1 and Upper Sixth. They were all English and often
illustrated with the work of leading Punch cartoonists. This
would have been in the mid-1950s. Being keen on sport, I used to enjoy
the front page cartoons in Wellington’s Sports Post in the late
1940s and early 1950s, with Neville Colvin and then Nevile Lodge the
cartoonists. I got to know them both decades later.
you began initial research for The Unauthorized Version was there
interest in the preservation of New Zealand cartoons by any professional
institutions or private individuals?
I don’t think it had occurred to anyone. I agreed to the project before
finding out how many editorial cartoons were in the Alexander Turnbull
Library and other research libraries in NZ – I did know the Mitchell in
Sydney had a very good collection. It turned out there were no
collections at all – just a few cartoons that had been deposited as
parts of collections of papers, etc. Of course, there were runs of the
magazines and newspapers that had carried cartoons but they were in
bound volumes in various places. Once the Cartoon Archive was launched a
few people emerged with clippings of the work of their favourite
cartoonists. I remember once receiving at home, without even a covering
letter, a large box of hundreds of Sid Scales’ cartoons carefully cut
out of the Otago Daily Times. New Zealanders were accustomed to
seeing cartoons in magazines and newspapers but very little had been
written about them. Pat Lawlor, a journalist who edited the NZ Artists’ Annual between 1926-32 and an NZ section in Aussie
knew all the cartoonists and wrote a little about them, but not always
very accurately. Even David Low, our most famous cartoonist, was little
more than a name.
to establishing the New Zealand Cartoon Archive I've read that your house was used to
store many boxes of cartoons. How did you manage to source these? And
when did you realise there was an importance to ensuring the
preservation of this material?
There were two aspects to researching The Unauthorized Version.
The most satisfying was the detective work, before aids like ‘Papers Past’ existed, digging out information about cartoonists who had had
very little, if anything, written about them previously. Less pleasant
was the grinding labour of going through many hundreds of bound volumes
in the bowels of the Parliamentary Library and at the Turnbull Library
then in the old Free Lance Building on the Terrace in Wellington. At the
Parliamentary Library, once I had found the cartoons I wanted, I’d go
up a spiral staircase to an area put aside for me where I held open the
heavy bound volumes with one hand while operating the microfilm camera
with the other. Not too much later most of these bound volumes were
dismantled for page-by-page microfilming and then disposed of. The
interest was primarily in keeping a record of the text on pages and it
transpired that a number of the cartoons were not able to be reproduced
I suppose, before I began working on the project, I
realised that political cartoons had the ability to encapsulate and
crystalise issues in a way that had a special clarity and insightfulness
about it – and a close association with thousands of cartoons over
several years simply reinforced this. Also, it soon became obvious that
NZ had a long a particularly honourable cartooning tradition going back
over a century and there were scores of unknown but very good
cartoonists. And I also came to see that cartoonists had shown the depth
of feeling about various issues – like the high levels of racial
prejudice in the country – that had been glossed over, or missed
entirely, in the general histories by people like Sinclair and Oliver.
Cartoons were, and are, very good at showing prevailing gut feelings and
reactions at any given time.
I came to see that it was important for
the country to have a cartoon archive to honour all those cartoonists
but also because of the importance of cartoons as historical sources
that should take their place alongside the official records and
documents that our historians have relied on for so long. Interestingly,
this is a view that is increasingly accepted by historians in a number
Comics and cartoonists from England were my entry point to comics and are still an interest, particularly material from the 1950's to early 1980's. I've been wanting to write about some of the work of this period and share samples of art so rather than start another blog I'll be posting the occasional English Comics Diversion here. The impression I get from my Internet trawlings is that the history of English comics and cartooning are severely underwritten about in comparison to the wealth of material available on American comics.
Whilst researching Ian Dickson I picked up a box of Men Only magazine digests from the late forties and early fifties. Men Only in this era comprised stories, articles and dozens of cartoons and illustrations in each issue. Peynet, Ronald Searle, Norman Mansbridge, Wyndham Robinson were amongst contributors to the pages of Men Only with distinctive caricature covers provided by Irish cartoonist Edward Sylvester Hynes (1872 - 1982).
Had to take a break from the Paper Trail over the last few weeks for travelling, editing work, bereavements, and REAL LIFE...
Here is a summary of the entire Internet: The big Pikitia Press news is the release of our new comic Peter Foster's adaptation of For The Term of His Natural Life this Sunday at the Melbourne Writers Festival: Facebook it here.
This Saturday is host to another comics event in Melbourne, capital comics city of Australia. Exhibitchin’! is the title of Squishface Studios latest effort to get comics into everybodies lives. As well as works from David
Blumenstein, Marta Tesoro, Ben Hutchings, Sacha Bryning, Sarah Howell,
Ive Sorocuk, Arran McKenna and Jo Waite, they'll be bitchin' tunes,
crazy costumes, chocolate-infested food, tarot readings, body art, a
comics jam, badge-making, personality testing, portrait drawing... and
an entire leg of ham.
Pat Alexander conducts a tour of Squishface studios in prep for Exhibitchin’!
A flux of comic printing plates have turned up on the Australian ebay in recent months, some from Australian reprints of foreign material and some from honest-to-goodness Australian drawn material. Most of these were destroyed after they had served their purpose. At the time of posting, this auction for a plate of the cover to Fiction House's Indians #21 had a few days to run.
Auckland based biennial literary zine POTROAST are looking for contributors for a special comics issue, details here.
Inverted Dawn: Exhibition and comics launch at Tinning Street, Melbourne. Opening night September 6th - September 16th featuring Html Flowers (Cougar Flashy) and Girl Mountain (Simon Hanselmann)
brothers hand mirror and
girl mountain live
Tom Spurgeon writes here about the recently passing of art critic and historian Robert Hughes and his connections with comics as a cartoonist early in his career for the Observer in Sydney and in his appraisal of the work of Robert Crumb.
F.E.C Comics are launching three new comics at All Star Comics in Melbourne, 22 September, 6.30pm. Have a look on Facebook here. I can't find anything on the normal Internet but F.E.C Comics are located here. From the press release: KRANBURN #4 Ben Michael Byrne returns
with the beginning of his second chapter. Brand begins his war against
Lord. Blood spillage is a promise. FIRESIDE TALES A horror
anthology collecting three brilliant stories from some very talented
Australian creators; Alex Smith, Andrew Shaw, Billy Tournas, Mike
Wszelaki and Will Pleydon. SEVEN Fairy tales were once not so child-friendly. Alisha Jade delves into these origins and presents her interpretations.
Congratulations to Trevor Wood and Jen Breach for their recently concluded webcomic, Sawbones. After five years and 289 pages Trev recently posted the concluding page and a blog hinting at upcoming projects. Five years is a long time in webcomics, many don't last five months, so it's commendable to see the work Trevor and Jen have created and their decision to bring their story to a close.
Panel from Sawbones
Melbourne cartoonist Doug Holgate is amongst the speakers at the second Spotlight on Specialists seminars at NMIT, Fairfield, Melbourne on Saturday September 8th.
There was a kerfuffle on the net a few weeks back with some folk critical of a forthcoming GARO tribute anthology. This provoked an interesting discussion of Kickstarter and publishing in general here and here and here and many other places. Of note the SP7 Alt. Comics tribute to Garo Manga edited by Ian Harker and Box Brown features amongst it's contributors Benjamin Constantine, a fine cartoonist from Brisbane. Check Benjamin out here and here and here.
Pikitia Press will be publishing new editions of James Davidson's Moa #1 and #2 later this year and all being well issue #3 will be available for the Melbourne and Auckland Armageddon cons in October.